Mere Withholding of Salary per se by Superior won’t amount to Abetment of Suicide, Rules SC

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INTRODUCTION:

The present case “Vaijnath Kondiba Khandke v. State of Maharashtra and Another” is an appeal against the decision of the Hon’ble High Court of Judicature at Bombay in the Hon’ble Supreme Court Of India that is adjudicated by Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit on 17th May 2018.

Mr. Kishor Parashar, who was serving as the Deputy Director of Education Aurangabad, committed suicide on 08.08.2017 in his house. His wife made a complaint to police that her husband was suffering from mental torture as his higher officers were getting heavy work done from her husband; he would be called at odd hours and even on holidays.

She alleged that the appellant Vaijnath Kondiba Khandke stopped his husband’s salary for one month and was threatening that even his increment would be stopped. She accused his co-worker Ms. Vidya Ghorpade for his suicide, along with the appellant, as she used to get her work done from the deceased. The wife filed a FIR against the two for Abetment of Suicide( expounded in Sec. 306 IPC ).

The High Court quashed the proceedings against Ms. Vidya Ghorpade, but upon the application of the appellant  it ruled that:

Even when the accused persons have no such intention, if they create situation causing tremendous mental tension so as to drive the person to commit suicide, they can be said to be instigating the accused to commit suicide…

Thus the appellant appealed in the Supreme Court against the decision of the High Court.

PRECEDENTS:

In “Madan Mohan Singh v. State of Gujarat and another” (2010) 8 SCC 628 the Supreme Court had quashed the proceedings against a superior officer of a driver when the driver committed suicide after being rebuked at the hands of the superior officer and being threatened to be suspended  as the deceased had failed to comply with the directions of the superior officer.

However, in “Praveen Pradhan v. State of Uttaranchal and another” (2012) 9 SCC 734 the Supreme Court refused to quash proceedings against the superior of a junior officer when the former compelled the latter to indulge in some wrongful practices at the work place. As the junior officer refused, he was harassed at regular intervals in front of the entire staff of the factory with comments like “…had there been any other person in his place he would have died by hanging himself“. All of this culminated in the suicide of the junior officer.

SUPREME COURT’S RULING:

The Supreme Court, thus, ruled in the present case:

There is no suicide note left behind by the deceased and the only material on record is in the form of assertions made by his wife in her reporting to the police

…the facts on record in the present case are completely inadequate and insufficient

The court added

The exigencies of work and the situation may call for…stopping of salary of a junior officer for a month. That action simplicitor cannot be considered to be a pointer against such superior officer.

“The allegations in the FIR are completely inadequate and do not satisfy the requirements under Section 306 IPC.”

Thus the Supreme Court overruled the High Court decision and quashed the proceedings against appellant lodged in pursuance of an FIR.

This piece is penned by Gunjeet Singh Bagga.

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